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It's Not What You Think, It's How You Present It

I was a debater back in the day. Our high school team was very successful, thanks in large part to a coach who knew argumentation and demanded we learn to do it correctly. I went on to college debate and more coaches who taught me how logical argument must go. In its most basic form a point of debate should: 1. State your position clearly 2. Explain your position 3. Support your position with evidence 4. Restate your position in a brief, easily remembered form That's why Facebook makes me crazy. Today's social media allows for arguments so weak they'd be laughable if our society weren't in peril because of them. These arguments are tossed into the public forum from the highest levels of our government down to the lowest levels of education, people who can't even spell the word argue . Not only are pathetically weak arguments presented, but when someone responds, that weak argument usually descends into name calling and insults. Here are a few examples o

An Argument for Better Arguing

"But can't you see how wrong you are?" Centuries ago, when I was in high school, I took up argumentation. I joined the debate team because my sister had done well there, and because the coach cornered me in the hallway and asked me to. I loved it. Research, constructing cases, looking for weaknesses in the arguments of others, and organizing information so I could get at it easily. It might not sound like everyone's cup of tea, but it was certainly mine. I ended up ranked in the state and got a scholarship to college. Debating in college was even more fun. The competition was tough, but we traveled to places I'd only read about and formed a close-knit group that loved to--you guessed it--argue. Play with language. One-up each other. Argue some more. Debate is formal argument , and it doesn't bear much resemblance to the real-life version. One can try tossing out lies and false evidence, but the other team is likely to call her on it. [Great example: we